Your sheep need to be brought in to be fed and only your team’s robot can help! You must gather your flock but avoid the wolves who would just love the chance to be trapped inside the enclosure with your precious animals!
To collect all the sheep in your arena and place them in the sheep enclosure without also collecting the wolves within the time limit.
Remote Control or Autonomous.
- You must add markings to your arena for your “barn” – this is the starting position of your robot and measures 500mm by 325mm and is located in the bottom-left corner of your arena.
- Your robot can be initially positioned anywhere in the barn, facing any direction. Trailers can be positioned outside of the barn if necessary.
- You must additionally build an Enclosure for your sheep in the top-right corner of your arena – this is where the sheep must be shepherded to and measures 750mm by 300mm. The walls of your enclosure must be 75mm tall.
- You will add to your arena 6 sheep and 3 wolf “playing pieces”. These will be of a specific size and placed in specific locations. The “picture side” of your playing pieces should face the bottom wall of the arena so that they all face the same way.
- The sheep playing pieces are cuboids measuring:
- Width: 150mm
- Depth: 75mm
- Height: 75mm
- The wolf playing pieces are standees. The top part is a rectangle measuring 100mm wide by 150mm tall. There is then a cross-foot to the piece which is also 100mm wide.
- The details of what appears on the surface of the playing pieces is left up to you. (This means that, for autonomous solutions, you could make them a specific colour or place markers for your vision-enabled robot to spot).
- Optional: your enclosure may have a latched gate that will need opening and closing. Photographs of an example design for the gate and latch can be seen here, but use your imagination for the best results! There will be additional points available for:
- Unlatching and opening the gate (optional – your gate may already be open).
- Closing and latching the gate after all the sheep are inside the enclosure.
- You must collect or otherwise move the sheep and place them/move them inside the enclosure. (See here for an explanation of agricultural sheep enclosures/pens)
- You may use any method to persuade your sheep to enter your enclosure. This may include raising them up and over the wall of the enclosure, placing them safely on the other side – but they must stay upright to be counted as ‘alive’.
- A sheep is counted as “inside” if the majority of the sheep is past the gate or opening.
- You must avoid collecting the wolves and placing them inside the enclosure, although your robot is permitted to move the wolves if necessary, but see below for penalties.
- You must avoid “killing” the sheep or wolves by knocking the pieces over, with associated penalties applying.
- Sheep must finish on the floor of the enclosure to be counted as safe and they must be “the right way up” (otherwise you’ve killed them).
- You must aim to complete the entire course three times within the five minute limit. This includes resetting the playing pieces by hand and returning your robot to the barn.
- If you are running the course autonomously, your robot can return to your barn autonomously to give you extra time to reset the playing pieces.
- The clock will not be stopped during the reset (to make it easier for the Judges and to give a more accurate timing).
- Your whole three runs (and the resetting process) must be videoed in a single, continuous take. This shows us that you are able to complete the three runs consistently.
- You may have additional camera angles as picture-in-picture for added entertainment value!
- The clock will start when your robot first moves and stops when the last sheep on your third run is inside your enclosure and (optionally) the gate is latched closed. You may announce that you have completed the final run on your submitted video if you have no gate.
- You may use audio to control your robot but this must be limited to whistles only. A bonus will be awarded for using audio control.
Ranking and points
- There are 18 sheep that can be delivered across your three runs.
- For each sheep successfully delivered into the Enclosure, 50 points will be awarded to remote controlled robots and 85 points will be awarded to autonomous robots.
- When your robot unlatches and opens the gate during a run, 25 points will be awarded per run for remote controlled robots and 50 points will be awarded for autonomous robots.
- When your robot closes and latches the gate during a run, 25 points will be awarded per run for remote controlled robots and 50 points will be awarded for autonomous robots.
- For either of the two control methods, if you use a whistle to control your robot in some way, you will be awarded a bonus of 150 points.
- You may move your sheep/wolves in your pen during the run. However, if you complete all three runs without manually moving anything, you will be awarded a bonus of 100 points.
If your robot is autonomous and it recognises photographs of sheep and wolves attached to your animal pieces, you will be awarded 150 points.We have decided to remove these points and recalculate as proving/Judging you were doing this, and how you were doing it, would have been problematic, to say the least!
- A run is counted as “complete” if at least three sheep and zero wolves are in the Enclosure and either you have returned to the Barn to reset (for the first and second runs) or you have closed/latched the gate or announced your run is complete (for the third run).
- Your robot will be ranked against the other robots in your category, and using your control method, according to how quickly they completed the runs. Ranking points will be awarded according to the Formula Scoring System. Robots will only be eligible for these ranking points under the following conditions:
- You have placed at least three living sheep and zero wolves inside your Enclosure on all three runs.
- You have returned to the Barn to reset (for runs one and two) and have either closed/latched the gate or announced your final run is complete (for run three).
These are deliberately harsh as they are very important.
- For each wolf inside the enclosure at the end of each run, remote controlled robots will be deducted 50 points and autonomous robots will be deducted 85 points.
- For each sheep killed at any point, remote controlled robots will be deducted 50 points and autonomous robots will be deducted 85 points.
- For each wolf killed at any point, remote controlled robots will be deducted 50 points and autonomous robots will be deducted 85 points.
The Real World
- Rocos’ attempts to train the Boston Dynamics Spot robot dog to herd sheep in New Zealand
- University of Oxford Robot Sheepdog Project
- Machine learning for autonomous AI systems and robotics
- SwagBot – cattle herding in Australia
- Pinky Thakkar’s scholarly PDF article on Robot assisted herding
- Conference paper on an investigation regarding the behavioural response of dairy cows to a robot amongst the herd